I think it is safe to say that you know your father better than all of us. You know his strengths and weaknesses and, I suspect, you have figured out how to manage him over the years. I am writing to appeal to your best judgment and your love for our country. He seems to listen to you and I hope you will heed my plea.
On the campaign trail, in the months after the election and, now, his first weeks in office your father has stirred up a great deal of emotions on all sides. Whether blue or red, coastal or fly-over, rich or poor, college educated or not, deeply religious or not, all colors and orientations…everyone is worked up. Worked up and certain of the correctness of their positions. This has created deeply troubling and extremist power plays and resistance. The people who support your father express an angry indignation at being left behind that now sounds like intolerance, isolationism and deep fear and mistrust of the Other. The people pouring into the streets and airports who oppose everything your father has put forth fear that this unleashed rage threatens our democracy, our values and our safety.
If this persists, which it seems that it will, our country will find itself more torn apart than ever and standing alone on the world stage. This scares the majority of the country. And I hope it scares you.
I hope that it scares you enough to provide some wise counsel to your father. I hope that you are still a person he turns to most often as a stabilizing force. I hope that you have the insight into his character to appreciate how disturbing his behavior is for the future of our country. I hope you can talk him back from the brink.
Here is what I hope you say to him: “Dad, this isn’t about winning anymore. This isn’t about beating your chest and showing the country and the world how strong you are or how willing you are to break all the rules. This is about governing and being a voice of reason in the world. You say that loyalty is important but you aren’t earning the loyalty of 73% of the country. You are now the president of all the people, not just the 27% who were loyal to you. Every time you denigrate a person, a group, a country or an institution, you lose more potential supporters. Every time you say things are up when they are down or green when they are purple, you sound foolish. Every time you shut out experts in favor of your own opinions, you sound less smart than I know you to be. Every time you lose focus in a speech or interview to talk about yourself, you give more evidence to all those who call you a narcissist. My point is that your actions are creating more foes and fears than admirers and loyalists.”
Ivanka, you need to appeal to your father’s espoused love for the country. Even if he wants to make major changes and finds things about the systems and institutions that could use a tune up, I have to assume that he believes in our Constitution and our form of democracy. Even if he was not a big rule follower in his business dealings, our government is built on some basic values, principles and laws. And, as president, he took an oath to abide by those rules. You need to remind him of all this. Feeling he has a mandate for change (which could be argued) does not mean to pull the pin out of a grenade.
There is a whole lot of hurt and fear in the country. We look to our presidents to calm our worries, to put forward coherent policies and plans to benefit the greatest good and to reduce the pain. We don’t expect them to actively engage in exacting greater pain and fear and inciting others to do the same.
Ivanka, please, the country needs you to speak to your father about these things. Everyday you need to reel him in. Everyday you need to encourage him to comport himself more in your style. Everyday you need to remind him that we are now his boss and that he serves something so much grander and bigger than what he is used to. His words carry meaning and weight; there is no such thing as “he didn’t really mean it” once the words are out there. Take his phone and Tweeter feed away from him. Give the cameras and prime time announcements a break.
Please help him show the country and the world that he can be thoughtful, measured and most of all, compassionate.